…and What Is It You Do For A Living?

As a follow up to our week 1 essay about the definition of educational technology, I came across this 2010 article critiquing the changes AECT made to the definition. It’s also a great discussion as to why labels and definitions can be so important to a profession. (shout out to Dr. Lowenthal for sharing on Academia.edu)


Interestingly, I came across this article while searching for additional “official” definitions of educational technology, instructional technology and instructional design. I had to present to our faculty at a Summer Institute seminar and part of what I wanted to talk about was what an instructional designer does and how I work with faculty and staff in my current position. Let’s just say I was more “confused and bemused” after researching for definitions and descriptions than when I started.

I think I have a good handle on what I’ve been hired to do at Pierce College, but after my presentation and the Q & A session that followed, I clearly have some more “splaining to do Lucy” when it comes to why we now have an instructional designer on staff and what’s in it for faculty. Luckily, my director at the Center for Engagement and Learning (yes, the acronym is CEAL) gets that we need to do a lot of marketing, blogging, email newsletters, presenting, etc. already. And we have a website. But in this day of so much noise on the Web, it takes a while for the message to get through sometimes.

Sigh…I’ve had to answer that cocktail party question, “Now just what is it you do for a living?” quite a bit this first year  – in fact, I had to do it at a Dean’s meeting about 2 weeks into the job. So, right away, I knew we had some work to do to introduce ourselves to the college community and make the case for what our new department does and how it does it. Feels like marketing and sales to me – but that’s OK – it’s what I teach in the business department as an adjunct.

So advice to others coming into the fields of educational technology, instructional technology or instructional design (take your pick of titles!). Labels do matter and just because you get the job, don’t assume the rest of the community you serve understands what you do and how you do it. You will have to market yourself a little – actually you can make this a fun part of your job – and go out into your community prepared to tell them what it is you do for a living and why it’s important.